Alberta Premier Danielle Smith wants to ensure money spent to access Alberta’s parks stays in the province.
In a Nov. 9 mandate letter, Forestry, Parks and Tourism Minister Todd Loewen was charged with initiating “discussions with federal counterparts to ensure all of the fees generated from Alberta national parks remain in Alberta to improve infrastructure and amenities in the parks.”
In a statement, Loewen said it’s critical the money stays in the province and is not used to fund other national parks.
“Our national and provincial parks attract millions of visitors annually,” he wrote on Twitter. “It is critical that the revenues generated by park fees stay in the province to address increasing pressures and improve infrastructure and amenities.”
Banff National Park, Elk Island National Park, Jasper National Park, Waterton Lakes National Park and Wood Buffalo National Park are the province’s five parks.
Banff receives more than four million visitors annually, while Jasper, more than four hours from the Edmonton airport, receives more than two million visitors yearly.
Parks Canada collects fees through the Discovery Pass, which provides unlimited access to all national parks. Most parks also have single-day passes, or visitors can pay for a pass at park gates.
The federal environment minister’s office told CBC that Parks Canada redistributes revenue from fees as needed to ensure operational continuity at all locations.
“The agency will continue to make key decisions that support the best interest of visitors and tourism partners,” a statement reads.
Smith also wants to work with the City of Calgary to develop hydrogen-powered trains to Banff.
In a letter, Smith asked Calgary Mayor Jyoti Gondek to consider expanding Calgary’s LRT system to the Calgary International Airport. She also wants to examine options around another rail link between Calgary and Canmore/Banff.
“Such a line would benefit Calgarians, Albertans and all visitors to our province in accessing one of the world’s greatest natural wonders: our provincial and national mountain park system,” Smith wrote.
“It would also significantly boost international and domestic tourism while improving road safety and reducing strain on Highway 1 between Calgary and Banff as population growth and tourist traffic continue to grow. Calgary is a world-class city; it should be connected to our province’s world-class parks.”